Ghost Breath of Coney Island
On Monday, the whole fam (me, my lady friend, and the pizza and Chinese delivery guys who are aka num and nuts) went to the rides at Coney Island. It was a gorgeous sunny day, a perfect day for family fun.
We got off the D train at Stillwell Avenue. The station is a nice European-style that looks like a gateway to a resort town. We were all real excited.
(Stillwell Avenue Station- Photo by Bald Punk)
In no time, walking like a mile ahead of my lady friend and myself, were the pizza and Chinese delivery guys. They were like dogs with their tags wagging, trying to tell us to walk faster. You had to see the bastards, hands shoved in their pockets like they were also trying to be cool though probably clenching all their greasy dollar bills that they were planning to spend on the rides.
But when we got to Surf Avenue that runs in front of the rides and the boardwalk, it looked like Coney was in “lockdown.” The gates were pulled down on the arcades. The Ferris wheel was not moving, and the Cyclone was eerily silent.
We went over to the roller coaster and some mofo who was making like he was fixing something said the rides are not open during the week.
So me and my lady friend were like “all right, let’s get some dogs and beers and get blitz.” Okay, I said that, but she didn’t say no.
But you had to see num and nuts, they were like whacked out zombies. Like kids all mopey and shit stuff. They were seriously bringing us down. And I admit it, I was pretty bummed.
(Cyclone – Photo by Bald Punk)
Because man oh man, we were all prepared to set world records on the Cyclone. We were going to ride that mofo until they threw us off. At eight dollars a spin, that would have been all our dough, but sometimes we live like there’s no tomorrow.
So there we were standing by the coaster, when all of a sudden my lady friend points out this cloud that’s snaking down into the old parachute jump. We walked all the way over there and from close up it looked like there was a ghostly glow on the top of the ride.
While all our heads are craned in admiration of the phenomenon, we heard this whistle. It sounded like a teapot way off in the distance.
(Parachute Jump – Photo by Bald Punk)
Looking back on it, I kinda think that some old spirits took a shine to us. Probably bastards just like us who slaved the days away, living only for good times. Probably thought they’d throw a scare into us for fun. They must have been making that sound, because believe me, it was not of this world.
The sound kept up, growing louder and louder, especially as we got close to Astroland. It was a really crazy, high-pitched whistle. Even though it was bright and sunny, the sound spooked us.
So I turned to num and nuts and in a deathly serious manner, I told them that it’s the signal that the ghosts of the fun times past on Coney Island are coming out to play.
Both made like they didn’t hear me. But they started looking around like they had dandruff on their shoulders—or like something was behind them.
(Astroland – Photo by Bald Punk)
And damn, that wind kept whistling. It even had me a little freaked.
I went on to tell them how millions of people just like us passed through Coney over the years, and that we could be pretty sure that their spirits are also not happy that the place is closed on a warm sunny day.
I also told them that the ghosts still loved to ride the Cyclone, and that they, of course, didn’t have to pay eight dollars to ride, if you know what I mean.
Then I acted a little weird. I told them to stop paying attention to the wind, and that it would go away. Of course they did the opposite, and the wind only got louder. They started to look like they had to pee.
Now I know you’re wondering what my lady friend was doing. Well, she’s smiling cause she knows her Baldie was de-moping num and nuts—and she’s the kind of person that’s happy when we’re happy. I told you before she’s cool as shit.
(Steeplechase Park – Photo by Bald Park)
Anyway, so I pointed to this sign that says Steeplechase Park, over by Keyspan Park. It’s where the Mets single A team, the Brooklyn Cyclones play.
I told them it was the spot where the Steeplechase ride used to be, which was a mechanical horse that slid down a hill on rails. I also said that when you got off the ride, you exited into the Blowhole Theater; where you were met by a clown and a midget. And I then I said the clown and the midget were whacked.
The clown beat the men with a rubber noodle, I said, and the midget was a pervert who molested the women. He even pushed them over a humongous blowhole that sent their dresses up over their heads. And if that wasn’t crazy enough, they did all this up on a stage, while loads of people watched!
I also told them in an affected voice that if they felt something strange, like a tap or even a push, that it could be the ghosts of the clown or the midget, who were trying to get them to the blowhole. But only the blowhole was now a pit in the Earth where everyone who fell in it became a Coney ghost.
Now the wind was making a really crazy sound, going higher and then lower like whoever making it was listening to my story.
It was “Coney magic.”
You had to see num and nuts, their jaws were near the boardwalk, and their eyes were bugging.
Right at that moment I said shhh, even though no one was talking. I pointed out another change in the wind.
After that I didn’t say anything. I just leaned in closer and we had a moment.
It helped that just then the clouds covered the sun, and the deserted beach looked lonelier than before.
(Coney Island Beach – Photo by Bald Punk )
And in a whisper I told them about a super secret ride that there were like eighteen separate doors to get to. It was called A Ride to the Moon. I told them Coney Island had their own moon rocket way before Neil Armstrong and John F. Kennedy.
It’s was totally true, I said.
I told them you had to walk through a freak show, and cross a moat on a plank while being poked by real pirates, and if you made it to the moon ride, you knew it cause you entered a room filled with billions of blinding lights. Then you got on a rocket that zipped you up to the moon that smelled like real cheese.
But that wasn’t all.
(Night in Luna Park, Coney Island, N.Y.)
When you got off on the moon there naked midgets running around, and they were in control because the people were all wacked out after being on a rocket that moved faster than a lightning bolt. Then unspeakable things happened—
I asked num and nuts if they knew what I meant, and they shook their heads, and I said that was good. Then I told them that no one should know what went on up on the Coney Island Moon that smelled like cheese and had naked midgets running around it.
And then I said I wasn’t going to say more because it’s not good to give away all Coney Island’s secrets. They agreed with loopy smiles.
After that the four of us went for a nice walk on the beach.
We even decided to lay down in the sand. But man oh man that wind wasn’t done with us yet. Once we got comfortable it came back, whistling and kicking up sand, making us wipe our eyes.
When it calmed down, I told everyone to be silent, and to think about all the people over the years who had laid right where we were, enjoying Coney surf and sun . . . And then to look into the water and imagine all those people—all their smiling faces as they trampled in the sand and were knocked around by the waves.
We all got quiet, and could just hear that spooky wind. Then I said I’d tell them one last Coney Island secret. But first I started looking around like I wanted to make sure no one was close. I even got up on my elbows and turned my head to the boardwalk.
When I finally spoke it was in a voice so low that they had to lean closer to hear—
I said the wind making that sound is not really wind. I said it’s called the Ghost Breath of Coney Island.
Shhh, I said. Don’t ever tell a soul.
Then we all laid back and we’re all kinda like how you get when you’re wiped out from having so much fun.
Let me tell you, we had an awesome day. It was magic. Coney magic.
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Here are all the posts in this series: Sixth Episode – May 2009 (Coney Magic)